The second act of worship is fasting (sawm) during the month of Ramadan (ramaḍān), the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. In this month, Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and sexual activity with their spouses from dawn to sunset.1 Like any other acts of worship, fasting must be performed with pure intention, that is, solely for the sake of God and to attain proximity to Him. Along with closeness to God and achieving His pleasure, fasting has many other benefits, such as strengthening one’s determination, reminding people of God’s blessings which they may take for granted, such as the food that they enjoy everyday, remembering the hunger and thirst of the Day of Judgement, helping the rich to understand what the poor experience in order to awaken their sense of benevolence and sympathy, weakening one’s appetites and lower desires, and letting rational understanding and spiritual awareness flourish. The Qur’an says:

O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard (against evil). (2:183)


Footnotes

1 Several groups of people are exempted from fasting, such as the sick or those who travel.


Discovering Shi’i Islam Mohammad Ali Shomali 9th Edition